Some places take your breath away with pounding waves and sweeping views. Others have a hushed kind of beauty, a peaceful quiet that draws you in and sets you at ease. Slovenia’s Vintgar Gorge definitely falls into the latter.
Only about 10 minutes away from perennial Pinterest bait Lake Bled, the Vintgar Gorge has been growing in popularity as more people (besides Slovenians) discover its quiet and slightly less-tame beauty. We visited on a day trip from Ljubljana with friends, combined with Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj. It’s a great stop, easy for pretty much anyone, doesn’t take too long (maybe an hour?) and is a lovely, wilder complement to the more polished Lake Bled.
Vintgar Gorge and Triglav National Park
The Vintgar Gorge (also sometimes called Bled Gorge) is located in Triglav, Slovenia’s only national park (named after the highest summit in the country). Located in the northwest, in the Julian Alps, it covers about 3% of the country’s total area, and was among the earliest European national parks set aside.
The gorge is only 1.6 km long (so 3.2 km round trip) and an easy walk, which makes it appealing to people of all ages and fitness types. Additionally, since it’s only about an hour from Ljubljana it’s an easy day trip even when combined with Lake Bled and similar area attractions.
The Slovenians have done a great job of keeping the pathways very unobtrusive and yet also very close to the action…it’s an intimate feel, not the sterile feeling you often get at many American natural attractions where you’re on a giant viewing platform somewhere far away.
Look at that giant fish, and how clear the water is!
The deep turquoise water has cut a pretty narrow path through the steep rocks over the centuries, which makes the water rush through faster, helped along by small waterfalls.
For the most part, the walk along Vintgar isn’t about major sights or a must-see. It’s more just a lovely, peaceful stroll along a beautiful river. Just enjoy walking along the pathway, with the sound of rushing water and chirping of birds. But there is a 13 meter-high waterfall at the end, Šum Falls. We didn’t make it there, had to turn back because someone wasn’t feeling great, which is a bummer.
We did get as far as the dam that’s partway there, completely man-made. Pretty but since its not natural I wasn’t super impressed. The actual wild beauty around me was much more amazing in my opinion. Go all the way to the Šum falls!
This is the face you give your mom when she’s snapping pics of you the whole time.
On a side note, I *really* miss that purse 🙁 Someone broke into my car last year and it happened to be in my trunk, and doggone I haven’t been able to find another purse I like as much as that one. Grr!
Tips for visiting the Vintgar Gorge:
- There’s parking on-site (I think it was free?) and an admission fee; I remember 4 euros per adult.
- It’s an easy 1.6 km one-way/3.2 km round-trip walk (look at my shoes, those were not hiking shoes!)
- Make sure to check ahead on open hours. For instance, the gorge is closed right now (it’s mid-February 2016) until April for the winter. Sometimes storm damage will also close it. Check the website.
- Make sure you go all the way to the falls at the end (don’t be fooled by the dam, it’s not the falls!).
- I believe there is a little restaurant at the car park. We didn’t eat there but could be a nice place for a drink.
Do you prefer the polished beauty of Lake Bled or the rushing waters of Vintgar Gorge? Let me know in the comments!
For more beautiful waterfalls: Croatia’s magnificent Plitvice Lakes National Park
More Slovenian adventures: Wine & Conversation at Slovenia’s Rojac Winery